Back-to-school time has arrived in the Lee household. My oldest son has chosen his back-to-school clothes and has a back-to-school haircut. My husband is fixing up his newly acquired classroom. The package store is full of pumpkin-flavored beer, and I’m waiting for Starbucks to start making pumpkin spice lattes. My husband told me this morning how much he loves this time of year.
I guess I do, too. I like putting my kids in a wagon and taking them to pick apples and pumpkins when autumn starts humming. Apple cider donuts and roasted winter squash are great, and I like getting into the routine of school days. I just don’t have the Mom Magic this year, and I know exactly why. I spent all of my reserved awesome points in August on nothing particularly worthwhile.
What is the Mom Magic, you ask? I’ll tell you. It’s that cloak of ruthless efficiency that overcomes you at about the end of August. You look around your nest to make sure that everyone has school supplies and school clothes. You start getting up earlier and putting yourself into the mindset to make lunches and comb your kids’ hair by a certain time in the morning. You fire up the jalopy of your choice (ours is a Hyundai Sonata that just crossed the 100,000 mile mark) and start wearing grooves in the road to school, to daycare, back home, back to school and back to daycare. Homework gets done, children get fed, and order and reason prevail. That is Mom Magic.
This year, we’re getting by on auxiliary power—no warp engines this time. Mom is as tired as the election rhetoric that surrounds us. You see, after my Master’s residency ended, I came home and started doing work to compete for an editing contract. At the same time, my other work sources unleashed the floodgates and buried me with projects. Two entire weeks of my life have washed away, and I’m picking through the refuse to see what’s left of my shredded psyche. I got the editing job, so that’s at least six months of steady work, a good thing for a freelancer, but I may not have communicated with my family in any depth for a couple of weeks. As for hygiene, well, nobody died, did they?
On the one hand, I congratulate myself that I have my work situation resolved for a while. On the other hand, I’m reminding myself of the futility of a life consumed by work. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it’s self-employment work or if it’s working for The Man. You still end up asking yourself “What’s it all for?” when your work fixation steals you from the people who matter most.
So this year, Mom lacks unfettered awesomeness with which to kickstart school days. The kids will still get lunches and will arrive at school neat, clean and on time, and the wheels will roll out to daycare and back even if the driver is looking a little subdued. I spent all of the Mom Magic on the wrong priorities this time. I’ll have to keep peeking under rocks until I find a new stash of mojo.
Photo Credit: Angie Muldowney Photography